This can’t approach Patrick McDonnell’s A Perfectly Messed-Up Story (2014) for anxiety about mess and chaos or Deborah...



If you’re afraid to get messy, you might be missing out.

As a “very particular pig,” Edward—who stands upright and is child-shaped except for his face, ears, and feet—can’t bear messiness. He lines up spray-bottle cleaners in a neat row; in the living room, he appears three times on the same page to diligently dust, vacuum, and straighten picture frames. He won’t eat spaghetti and meatballs or do art projects at school (and, indeed, spaghetti, meatballs, and paint fly through the air when his classmates get their hands on them). He even “vacuums his perfectly sparkling goldfish tank with a special underwater vacuum.” Edward’s manic, bug-eyed expression on that page and the capital letters that explain he “FEARS filth” scream that Edward doesn’t have a mere preference—he has anxiety. One day, he’s straightening a supply shelf when plop, splat, crash—paint goes everywhere. The text calls him “DEVASTATED,” but he actually looks just shocked, then nonplussed. Before long, he’s painting. Messes don’t scare him anymore, and everything from spaghetti fights to exploding science experiments is fair game. Stern’s colored-pencil illustrations are bright and friendly, though some grins look exaggerated.

This can’t approach Patrick McDonnell’s A Perfectly Messed-Up Story (2014) for anxiety about mess and chaos or Deborah Freedman’s Blue Chicken (2011) for glorious spills, but it’s a fine addition. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3777-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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